The governors of some states in the US have ordered government-run liquor stores to stop selling Russian-made vodka and distilled spirits in solidarity with Ukraine, as the country faces a devastating Russian invasion. 

These states include Utah, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire – with Utah being the latest addition. Governor Spencer Cox on Saturday requested the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to “remove all Russian-produced and Russian-branded products” from the shelves of their retail stores in response to Moscow’s “egregious violation of human rights”, according to a report by news agency Reuters.

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“We will do our part to push back on the Russian invaders and stand with our sisters and brothers in Ukraine,” said Cox.

He further added that Utah would review all state procurements to check for any Russian ties.

Experts, however, believe that the boycott may not have any concrete impact as only limited brands of vodka imported to the United States still produce the liquor in Russia. Russian-styled vodka brands, such as Smirnoff and Stolichnaya, actually produce the liquor in other countries, including the United States.   

To be specific, only 1.2% of US vodka imports had come from Russia in the first half of 2021, Reuters reported, quoting data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the US. This meant vodka from Russia constituted only $18.5 million of the $1.4 billion worth of vodka imports in the year. France, on the other hand, accounted for $660 million of the total. 

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Owner of the Stolichnaya brand, the Stoli Group, has voiced its support for the people of Ukraine. The official website of the brand reads, “Stoli Group stands for peace in Europe and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”

Even before the instructions by governors, some bars and liquor stores in the US had started pulling Russian vodka off their shelves and promoting Ukrainian brands instead. “I woke up yesterday morning, and I saw that Russia had invaded Ukraine. You wonder what you can do. The U.S. obviously is putting on sanctions. I thought I would put on sanctions as well,” Bob Quay, owner of Bob’s Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had said, reported Associated Press. 

The boycott of Russian-made liquor has also been instructed in a few provinces in Canada, including British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta. 

Russia launched a massive invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday, after months of military build-up at the border and heightening suspicion of war by the West. Moscow’s aggression is considerably the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II.